Two Can Learn Better than One!

Category: Parenting

Handbag Essentials

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting , Tags: crayons, emergency supplies, handbag, mobile phone, snacks, tissues, wet wipes

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As a mum, there are a number of essentials that you should should keep iny our handbag to help with those emergency moments, or to keep the little ones entertained. Here are some items that we recommend you try to keep on you at all times:-

  • wet wipes
  • tissues
  • pack of wax crayons
  • notebook (for sheets of paper)
  • dry snacks
  • bottle of water
  • mobile phone

Of course, if your little ones are still in nappies then there's a whole load more that you'll be carrying around with you!

Look out for practical and small versions of everything. Carry handy packs of wet wipes and tissues, a small pack of crayons, the sort that restaurants give away with kids' meals, and small packets of dry snacks, such as the little boxes of raisins or other dry fruits.  Although all of these are more expensive than full sized items, many are available in multipacks which makes for slightly better value. You don't want to become a pack horse, but having these to hand could be helpful when you find yourself stuck outside of home.

No one goes anywhere without their mobile these days but beside being available those emergency calls ('I've locked myself out of the house!' or 'The car won't start!'), smart phones can store photos and music. Download a few toddler friendly games too to help kill time when you're stuck in a queue, or waiting for a doctor's appointment etc.

Saying 'No'

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Babies, Parenting , Tags: negative, no, positive

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'No' is the ultimate negative command and should be used carefully when working with babies and young children.  Although baby's recognise 'No' from around 6 months, they may not actually react and stop what they are doing until somewhat older as they approach a year.  It's very easy to scream 'No' at our little ones the whole time, every time that we see them doing something that they shouldn't be doing, and especially as they start cruising and exploring the house in new ways.

Try to balance the negativity of 'no' with some positives and you will reap the rewards - you will find that your little ones become far more responsive.  Instead of yelling 'No', explain why you are saying it.  Perhaps use 'Hot' if you mean 'No, don't touch, that's hot!', or 'Bang' if you mean 'Don't pull that, it will fall!' and so on.

Instead of leaving a negative taste in their mouths, explain what your little ones CAN do.  Demonstrate that they aren't to play with a small-easy-to-choke-on-object, instead give them something that they CAN play with.  Rather than telling them 'No' when they start pressing buttons on the television, give them something that they CAN press buttons on, like a keyboard on a computer that is turned off or a remote controller with the batteries removed.

Balance 'No' with praise for positive things.  When you observe your little one doing something good or safe, reward them and tell them they are doing well.  This will discourage them from doing bad things simply to gain attention from you.

Give Yourself a Makeover

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Health , Tags: charity shops, clothes, fashion, glamour, makeover, manicure, nails, pedicure

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Some days just get you down, and being cooped up with young children all day, with no other adult company, can take its toll.  Don't let depression hit you though, make sure you get out and treat yourself every once in a while!

Look at giving yourself a special treat, why not a makeover?!  Head out and treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure, a massage or just a nice hair do.  Go out and buy some new clothes.  It's so important that you get some time to pamper yourself, to get out of the house, and make yourself feel just that little bit extra special.

If you have a young baby then there is pretty much constant demand on your time as you have to feed and change so regularly.  However, that doesn't mean that you have to stay home.  Look for a shopping centre that has creche facilities and you might be able to leave your baby there for a couple of hours while you treat yourself.  If you have little ones in nursery, or at school, then get out while they are being looked after.  If your little ones aren't in regular childcare then approach a local nursery and just ask for some ad hoc sessions.  Whilst some chains might find the administration to fulfill such a request just too mindboggling, there is bound to be a local nursery who will welcome your money on an occasional basis.  If you're in full time work then you might have to fall back on your partner, or perhaps your parents or other family to help you out so that you can get a few hours off.

A makeover might sound expensive, and it really can be.  If you don't have that sort of money to spend on yourself then do what you can.  Find a nail bar that might do nails quickly and cheaply, leaving you feeling slightly glamorous.  Maybe do your own nails but treat yourself to a pedicure.  If you have a college that runs beauty courses (nails, hair, massage), then you may find that they have a heavily subsidised salon where you can treat yourself at a fraction of high street prices.

If you can't afford a new look in high street fashion shops, then try charity shops instead.  So many clothes end up in charity shops because they are the wrong size or a bad fit for someone else, or they simply don't like them.  Look out for a bargain - you'll enjoy the 'chase' and feel really pleased with yourself if you find something that you like!

Having a healthy family requires a healthy Mummy, and if you can't find a bit of time to perk yourself up from time to time, then you simply aren't doing it right!

10 Top Tips for a Hot Day

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting , Tags: heat, ice-cream, nappies, sea, shade, spf, sun, swimming, tips, uv, water

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The sun has arrived at last, but hurry, it may not last long! On a hot day, with beating sunshine, it's so important to keep the children covered up and protected from the sun.  Here are 10 important things to remember on a scorching day:-

  1. Cover up with sun cream before going into the sun
  2. Remember waterproof nappies for little ones looking forward to a dip in the sea or a paddling pool
  3. Reapply suncream throughout the day, especially after emerging from water
  4. Wear a sun hat; sun glasses are more cosmetic but they're cute too
  5. Wear UV SPF protective clothing, wear clothes in water if you're really exposed to the sun
  6. Drink lots and keep hydrated - water is best
  7. Keep in the shade whenever possible
  8. Beware of biting or stinging insects, if insects are a pest where you are, use a natural repellant
  9. To help with hydration, eat lots of fruit, especially high water content tropical fruits such as watermelon, pineapple, melon and mango
  10. Eat lots of ice-cream!


Choosing Where To Live

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Family , Tags: amenities, community, location, moving house, parks, playgroup, schools, soft play, theme park, zoo

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Once you have children, it becomes much more difficult to move house because we enter into routine based on our locality.  Many couples choose to move house before starting a family so that they are in a home suitable to raise a family.  If you are in that situation, then look out for features that make a new area 'family friendly'.

Many prospective parents check out schools in their area to ensure that they are in good catchments.  Remember though that you are at least 5 years away from starting school and that catchments change frequently according to population changes.  Be especially careful of school catchment areas that can shrink - local development may create new houses aimed at families nearer to schools, pulling the catchment boundary in.  Buying a house that is just inside a known catchment today may fall outside in 5 years time.

Before school, you will be spending lots of time entertaining your little ones as they grow from babiest o toddlers.  Make sure that you have good family facilities nearby, ideally within walking distance of your house.  Amenities to look for include parks, soft play, a library and swimming pools.  Other 'attractions' that you might want nearby but not necessarily on your doorstep might include farms, zoos or theme parks.

When you have your first baby, you will welcome support from local groups and networks.  Look for active playgroups in an area, and approach the NCT for information about activities in an area that you are not familiar with.

From a practical level, a local shop within walking distance of your home can be a blessing.  Small convenience stores often stock everything that you might need in an emergency, for you or your new family.  Check out public transport links too, even if you have a car, as there might be times when you can't rely on a car and still being mobile will be important.

Although it is possible to move house once you have your family, it becomes more difficult once you become entrenched in the local community and settle into a routine that suits the family, not to mention the sheer cost of moving.  Choose wisely now and hopefully you will find a lovely family home in a great location that will see you through for years to come!

Choosing Baby's Names

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Family , Tags: baby's names, grandparents, names, research

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Picking a name for your new baby is not easy; do you canvass grandparents and friends with your ideas?  Do you keep it simple, short and easy for the baby to say when they are older or do you go for something elaborate?  Do you go for conventional or really way-out names?  It seems that a surprisingly large number of parents - over half! - actually regret the name they originally giver their baby.

Some say it doesn’t reflect the baby’s true personality or that they felt pressured to give a name so didn’t take enough time. Some say that they didn’t like the name in the first place and just over 25% say the name became too popular so went off it when they heard lots of other babies being called the same thing.

Research has been done by Northwestern University in Illinois to look into the impact that names have on babies and children.  That there is an impact, he says, is testament to the number of baby name books that are on the market... parents clearly feel its a big and serious job. to name their child appropriately.

In 2011 approximately 58,000 people changed their own name according to the UK Deed Poll Service.  This is some 4,000 more than the previous year. However, ten years ago this number was nearer 5,000 people changing their name each year!

Sure Start Children's Centres Consultation

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Health, Child Development , Tags: childrens centres, childrens services, consultation, department for education, sure start

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The Department for Education is partway through a consultation exercise on changes planned for Sure Start Children's Centre's, if you wish to respond to the proposals then you must do so by the 1st June 2012.  The consultation period is shorter than for most similar exercises and is looking for feedback on draft statutory guidance relating to Sure Start centres.

Sure Start Children's Centres are places managed by or on behalf of local authorities to ensure children's services are offered in an integrated way.  Children's services might be made available onsite but if not, advice and assistance should be given to obtain children's services.  Early years provision covers early education and childcare.  Children's services include social services, health services, training and employment advice and information for young children, parents and prospective parents.

The aims of Sure Start Centres are to open equal access to opportunities and education to all from an early age so that children reach a level playing field by the time that they reach school.  The centres particularly target more deprived communities who may not have access to such good facilities to help educate and nurture young children prior to reaching school.

Anyone is entitled to respond to the proposed changes, even if you aren't engaged in offering professional services to the young or parents.  If you would like your voice to be heard then put forward your view on the Department for Education's consultation website.

EYFS In Everything We Do

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Parenting, Child Development, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: chores, daily diary, eyfs, learning, routine

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Although the EYFS is a prescriptive programme to help cover a wide variety of development topics, almost everything we do covers aspects of EYFS without even having to try, and that's because EYFS is really gearing us up to learning about the real world.

Take a trip to the supermarket for example, your little ones are learning where their food comes from, they can help find products on the shelves, they help you with the money when you come to pay.  These activities touch elements of health and bodily awareness (PD), place (KUW), and shapes, space and measures and calculating (PSRN).

Picking up siblings or other children from school and chatting with mum's at the school gate aids language (CLL) and sense of community (PSED) as well as helping grow confidence (PSED), the walk alone contributing to Physical Development.

Familiarity with the goals of EYFS will let you turn every routine task or chore into a learning game.  Accentuate the lessons across the different areas of the EYFS and at every step you will be nurturing your children in understanding the world, their place within, and in how everything works. Don't forget to log the lessons learned in your Daily Diary at ToucanLearn!

Please, Thank You and other Manners!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting , Tags: manners, please, polite, thank you

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It's so lovely to hear children talk politely, it isn't hard to teach them a few basic manners even when they are little.  Here are a few reminders of some manners we could share with our children. The best way is to lead by example, so try to stick to these rules yourself too!

  1. Say please and thank you.
  2. Do not interrupt when adults are talking. Say, "excuse me" and wait for their attention.
  3. Do not share family secrets or delight in telling tales in public.
  4. Ask permission, don't just assume its okay to do what you like.
  5. Don't make observations about other people (e.g. big nose, funny hair etc). Keep opinions to your self - unless they are complements!
  6. Answer when someone talks to you and make eye contact.
  7. Say thank you after a party or a tea play date.
  8. Ask for things to be passed down the table rather than reach.
  9. Don't make fun of someone else or say you won't be their friend for some reason.
  10. If you accidentally bump someone, say sorry.
  11. Don't use unkind words or ugly words.
  12. Don't laugh at another child's efforts or attempts at doing something.
  13. Don't pick your nose.
  14. If a parent or teachers asks for help, offer it and do the task willingly.
  15. Use cutlery not fingers for meal times.
  16. Use a napkin not your sleeve to wipe your mouth after meals and a tissue for your nose!
  17. Knock on closed doors and wait for an answer.

Thank you for reading... and good luck!


Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Parenting, Health, Child Development , Tags: emotional, feelings, happy, psed, social, well-being

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Encouraging your baby to be a social baby is important - even after just 4 weeks of life babies are learning their first skills in communication. They are hearing conversations, watching people move about, listening to noises and music, feeling vibrations as you talk.

Babies watch adults eyes and faces for cues and can hear different tones of voice when they speak. If you babble with a baby, they will often pause for a reply even though they are not speaking actual words or having a conversation, they have picked up the idea of pauses in conversation and that we take turns to speak.

Smiling is a vital form of communication. If you smile at a baby more often than not they will smile back. If you frown at a baby they are likely to frown back or cry. So, before they even utter their first word they are learning the vital skills of communication through observing and listening to the parents or siblings behaviour.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

As babies get older, tactile and textured toys are a great form of entertainment. Once they can hold and touch things they can learn cause and effect. If they shake a rattle it makes a noise etc. They also get to learn about textures of things and beginning to understand that items feel different. Similarly we can feel different: sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes frightened etc.

When they get older and can use words, they can then begin to notice and describe how items feel. A wooden spoon is hard, a cotton wool ball is soft etc. Once they have mastered this, they are more able to explain how they feel inside. They might feel scared or joyful etc and with this confidence they can go on to share that information and communicate how they feel.

It is very important to try and give children the chance to develop their emotional well-being and to have the confidence to share their feelings with others. So, get all sorts of toys and items that feel and look different. Talk about the texture: are they rough, smooth, fluffy, shiny. Then talk about how we all look different and can feel different when we are afraid, excited, happy, sad, worried etc.

Keep It Safe!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Family, Kids Activities , Tags: internet, safer internet day

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Safer Internet Day is organised by Insafe each year in February to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology specifically for children and young people. This year's awareness day is Tuesday 7th February 2012.

The 2012 Safer Internet Day (SID) will focus on the idea of discovering the internet with your children and will use the slogan: "Discover the digital world together... safely!" It will encourage families to work together to stay safe online.

Insafe unites national Awareness Centres in 27 countries in the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Russia. The centres comprise of organisations who work together to raise internet safety awareness at a national level. Partners include schools, libraries, youth groups and industry to promote good e-safety practices. Networking at a European level allows centres to share information, showcase successful initiatives and draw on others' experience.

Have fun online, but be sure to keep yourself and your little ones safe too.

You've Got A Friend...

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Learning Play, Parenting, Child Development, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: eyfs, friends, making friends, personal development, relationships, social development

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Making friends, especially if you are a toddler, is not always easy... some children are keen to have 'best friends', others go around in packs and some are simply not interested at all.  When you ask who they played with a nursery and they say 'no one' it can be heart-breaking.  But, we have to remember that some children are emotionally 'advanced' and understand the concept of having a friend; whereas others are more interested in playing along side another child with no interaction at all.

If your child is nervous of making friends or you want to gently encourage them to make some new friends, here are a few ideas for encouraging and guiding them.  Friendship is an important part of all our lives and the importance placed on making friends in childhood is demonstrated by the fact that 'Forming Relationships' is part of the EYFS and is a focus of Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

Here are some tips on how you can help children make friends:

  • Give them plenty of opportunity to make friends: see lots of people and do lots of different activities
  • Give them lots of praise when they do something kind to another person
  • Don't force them or try to make them form friendships with people they don't like even if you like them!
  • Try not to interfere when they are interacting or playing
  • Be bold and approach people at playgroup and get to know them yourself
  • Lead by example, chat to people and make friends yourself
  • Talk about being kind, sharing and being a good friend while you are at home
  • Support any efforts to make friends even if they fail
  • Look at photos of friends and chat about how much fun they can be

'Find My Child' Service

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Family, Days out, Kids Activities , Tags: alerts, find my child, lost children, mariella frostrup, social helpworking

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A new service has been launched to help parents and child carers who suddenly find that they have lost track of one of their children.  Find My Child offers an iPhone app, voiced by Mariella Frostrup, with which you register information about your children.  A subscription of just £3 per month allows you to raise an alert in the event of one of you losing sight of one of your children.  Raising an alert sends a message out to other Find My Child users in the vicinity, sharing a picture so that they can help look for the missing child.  Should they find them, they can then call the parent directly and work together to reunite the child.

Find My Child respects everyone's privacy, only sharing information on a 'need to know' basis.  Usually your registered photo of a child will remain completely private, it will only be shared when you need to source help in finding your missing child.

The app is aimed at covering the period immediately after your child goes missing, to the point where the police can be involved in a search.  Should you have to escalate to a police search, this 'window' typically lasts up to three hours, but obviously you are more likely to find your child within the first 30 minutes.  Find My Child uses 'social helpworking' to bring everyone in the area together to help you in your moment of panic - a perfect use for a smartphone app!

Download Find My Child from the app store, or find out more at the Find My Child website.

Teaching Good Behaviour Is Never Easy

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting , Tags: good behaviour, praise, tips

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It is crazy to think that you can teach children to be well behaved in a week, or a month or even a year!  Good behaviour is something that you are constantly teaching and demonstrating throughout a child's life and its not really something that is either learned or now.

Here are a few guidelines:

  • If children come to blows (and it does happen!) first pay attention to the child who is hurt.  Turn your back to the aggressor (so they get no attention), give a hug and reassurance to the child who is harmed.  Then deal with the child who did the aggressive action.  Make it clear you are upset with them, but don't give them too much attention as this may have been their aim.
  • Try and keep your voice level even when the little ones are getting disruptive.  Screaming and shouting does not work and just makes the situation louder and more aggressive.  Try to keep your voice level.
  • Try to avoid confrontation by leading them away from an action before they do it.  If you see someone climbing onto the coffee table, get in there quickly to avert the standing on the table and distract them away.
  • When someone is behaving badly, ignore it if you can and give no extra attention.  Turn your back, remove them from the room and instead focus on the good behaving children.  Attention can be contagious and you will find everyone wanting that positive focus!
  • Have rules that everyone understands and keep a chart on the wall to remind them: no biting, kicking, hitting or pushing over.  Offer lots of kind hands, nice talking and sharing.  Point to the rules when they need a reminder.
  • Remember you are the adult!  Don't get stroppy and angry yourself if things are not going right!  Try to stay cool!
  • If someone is hurting another, rather than punishing them, encourage instead to comfort their friend and make right what they did - turn the behaviour around.
  • Teach children to look after themselves.  If someone is snatching or pushing, instead of crying or shouting for mummy teach them to say, "Stop! I don't like it!" or "Stop! That is hurting me!".  Give them the power and the means to try and deal with the situation.
  • Keep to your threats.  If you threaten you will go home from play group if they snatch again, you must see it through no matter how much fun you were having with the other mums!
  • Be fair and treat everyone equally.  Yes different children respond to different threats etc, but keep things easy.
  • Keep it positive, give lots of praise, and have fun!


Did you Trick or Treat this Year?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Days out, Food, Drink and Eating , Tags: counting games, halloween, sweets, trick or treat

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More children than ever took to the streets this year to 'trick or treat' their neighbours and friends.  Hoards of little witches and cute devils waved buckets at neighbours front doors in the hope of some lovely, bewitched sweeties being thrown in!

Going out trick or treating has become more and more popular over the years.  It used to be something they did in America, not here in England, but it has gradually become part of our annual festivities.  According to an ASDA survey reported in the Daily Telegraph, if you are dressed as a cute witch, skeleton or vampire you are likely to get more sweets than if you are dressed as someone like Freddie Kruger. Something to bear in mind!

Here are some other tips to bear in mind for next year:

  • Wear a good costume (nothing too scary)
  • Only go to doors with a pumpkin in the window or something that says a) they are in and b) the are getting involved in Halloween and that probably means c) they have treats to give away!
  • Take a cute child with you... you'll get more sweeties that way!
  • Be polite when the door is answered... you want to make friends not annoy people!
  • Go in small groups - its more fun!
  • Make sure you don't let the children eat all the sweets at once! Count them, colour sort them, build a tower with them, see how far they stretch end to end and eat them over a long period of time... along with plenty healthy foods along the way!

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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

Sign up FREE to ToucanLearn to follow our activity based learning programme for babies, toddlers and children. We offer hundreds of fun learning craft, games and activities - every activity is aimed at the capabilities of your specific children. Download custom activity sheets, and log their progress in each child's unique Daily Diary!

You'll also find sticker and reward charts, certificates, number and letter practice. Every activity links into the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) areas of learning and development.

Fill in our Daily Diary to log progress against the EYFS and add photo entries instantly simply by sending them straight from your phone. You can share diaries back with parents or childminders so that everyone can enjoy watching your children develop.

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